Speaking a language we understand, Rona Shaffran's poems tell the story of remarkable things that can happen in a broken relationship. These poems inhabit the sharp edges and rich depths of a union too long untended. Ignite begins in wintry suburbia with a man and woman who have lost emotional and physical connection. A magic-realist plunge into the atavistic tropics of desire breaks this barren matrix. The exotic landscape sparks resurgent passion, which leads to a dramatic and healing turn-around for the couple. The poems of disappointment don't waste a word. The poems of arousal are sensual, succinct and poignant. The garden grows. The transformation is real.
Straightforward on the surface, yet taking us to deeper levels of understanding, the poems are unflinchingly honest. Individually, they startle, and evoke primal recognitions. When read in sequence, the poems of Ignite impel us to the story's conclusion. The man and woman come alive as their joy and sadness meld together. There is dignity in this progression, and the restraint that comes with dignity.
These are poems for readers and lovers in all their seasons, yet there is hard-won maturity to the lovers in Ignite. Everyday gestures transform into universal experiences, taking us to the heart of emotions and experiences of a lifetime's duration. The language, refined to bone-essential elements, almost disappears to create an intimacy with the reader, a collective energy, a human experience that we all share.
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About the Author
Born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, Rona Shaffran lives in Ottawa, Ontario. She recently retired as co-director of the Tree Reading Series, one of Canada's longest running poetry venues, where she is also a member of the board of directors and organizes master poetry workshops. Rona Shaffran is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers and the Banff Centre Writing Studio. Her poems have appeared in Canadian literary journals, including Vallum, in an illustrated chapbook published and distributed in Canada and Australia, and in several collaborative chapbooks. She has won honourable mention for the John Newlove Poetry Award. Retired several years ago from federal government work, Rona now devotes time to writing and to travel, and is at work on a second manuscript that includes both poetry and prose. Ignite is her first published book of poetry.
Read an Excerpt
Through tall grass to the world’s edge,
I walk where coastline careens to a restive sea below the volcano, that hulk fuming against a torch red sundown.
I climb its black back,
my feet trembling on the cone of tuff and cinder,
the smoke curling from earthen fissures,
and from the volcano’s peak,
javelins of flame pierce the sable sky, firing smoky clouds fluorescent orange.
I lay my body on rocky soil, transfixed by the luminous heavens,
when a wayward star plummets past me, blazing a blue-white trail to the sea.
Like a brass key cut for a steel lock,
he approaches me,
hazel eyes velvet,
horse-like nostrils flared,
he strokes my shoulder with small, insistent breaths.
My breasts swell,
their flesh electric.
Blood unleashes charged particles that circuit from him through me and back through him,
each entry to my body drawing inward,
till, deep in the recesses of my core,
a rusty latch unlocks.
Stay up here with me all night, here on the edge of the world.
Table of Contents
Burnt Forest 15
Early Morning Mist 19
Manna: a prayer 22
Night's Corridor 24
An Opening 29
City Limits 31
Light: a prayer 34
In the Rain 38
Small Island 49
Dawn's Song 52
The Clock 63
Green Kimono 66
Each Time 68
Of all the ways you have touched me 70
Long Night 71
Top to Tail 77
Scent of Jasmine 79
Gently Down 81
New Clothes 82
Life Mate 87
Autumn Angles 88
At the Window 90
Blue Branches 91
About the Author 95